energy
4:10 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

Buoy that could determine viability of offshore wind farm to head back out to Lake Michigan

Wednesday state regulators and researchers will head about 35 miles west of Muskegon, near the Michigan-Wisconsin border in Lake Michigan. There they’ll survey the bottom of Lake Michigan to make sure there are no historic artifacts in the way when a floating research platform drops anchor there (likely) later this week.

Arn Boezaart heads the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center. Last year the center operated the buoy only 4 miles offshore. This year it’ll collect first of its kind data that’ll likely determine whether an offshore wind farm is viable in the middle of Lake Michigan.

Boezaart says there was a lot more interest in offshore wind data when the project began two-and-a-half years ago.

“The times have changed, the political winds have changed. So we’re just minding our business and going forward with the research work that we’re charged to do," Boeazart said. “We’ll let other people figure out how the public policy questions and politics of this play out.”

Last week Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed an agreement with other Great Lakes states and the federal government to identify existing regulations.

But Snyder says he’s not pursuing offshore wind legislation. Right now there is no clear path to proposing an offshore wind farm in the Great Lakes inside the Michigan border. The legislature did not approve regulatory recommendations from a council appointed by former Governor Jennifer Granholm. 

The research platform isn’t getting the full funding needed to compile detailed reports from the data. But Grand Valley State University has committed enough resources to at least send the buoy out to collect the data. That data will likely be shelved until more funding is secured in the future.